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San Jose State professor suspended after acting as liaison for campus protestors

San Jose State Professor suspended amid pro-Palestinian protest controversy
San Jose State Professor suspended amid pro-Palestinian protest controversy 03:12

A San Jose State University professor who acted as a liaison between pro-Palestinian campus protestors and campus administration was suspended and is under investigation for disciplinary action. 

Professor Sang Kil, who has been at the university for 17 years, said that on May 24 she received an email that accused her of violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

In a letter from Joanne Wright, the school's senior associate vice president of university personnel, Dr. Kil is accused of "repeated violations of university policies," including encouraging students to violate policies, engaging in harassing conduct towards colleagues, and creating a risk of harm by publicly identifying and posting inflammatory comments about a colleague.

"I got an email from the head of Student Affairs and she wrote me this email that was not connected to reality, I believe. She said that I marched the students through the students' REC center but that never happened, that I ordered the students to camp and they refused to follow my orders which, again, didn't happen so it was really easy for me to reply saying I categorically deny all your accusations," Dr. Kil said.

Dr. Kil also claims she was denied due process, not being given a report summarizing the evidence against her, which is supposed to be part of the California Faculty Association's contract with the California State University system.

"The fact that she makes all these, what I believe, are over-the-top claims, that I said and did that can easily be refuted by triangulated witnesses seems to support my theory that this is an academic freedom suppression campaign that is being launched by San Jose State University against me," Dr. Kil added.

The suspension comes almost three months after history professor Jonathan Roth was temporarily suspended following an incident with a student. Executive board member of the California Democratic Party, Tracie Stafford, emphasized the importance of free speech in this situation.

"Free speech is a core value at universities. It's just a core value, and you would expect that a professor would be able to allow that freedom of speech, but it is challenging because we are looking at an employment situation," Stafford said.

Stafford warned against using the current volatile political climate as an excuse to suppress freedom of speech, especially at universities.

"We need people that are going to stand up and those very students that are feeling passionate, if we shut them down and punish that professor, which is another story because other professors would say, 'Oh, we can't do this as well. I don't want to get in trouble. I'm not going to support these students,'" Stafford added.

For now, Professor Kil remains on administrative leave, seeking guidance from her union and possibly some legal counsel. She is determined to share her story and defend her rights.

"I'm just trying to get my story out because I do feel what's happening to me right now is a threat against freedom of speech, against our constitution, and academic freedom," Dr. Kil concluded

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